Greatest Game of 1999 and the Dawn of Next Gen: Sega Dreamcast

The date was September 9, 1999 (9-9-99), and this time I was fully prepared. If you’ve been keeping up with my video gaming articles you’ll know that the launch of the Dreamcast was not my first video game launch. Just three short years prior, the N64 came out, and information regarding the launch was tough to come by. In that time a little thing called the Internet came along and changed the way video games would be covered forever. (That was the main reason for its invention- right?) As opposed to the launch of the N64, I knew exactly what games would be released and exactly what I was buying.

Not unlike the N64, however, I was able to play the system prior to launch. A Hollywood Video in town allowed two-day rentals of the system, and for $20 I was able to rent the system along with Sonic Adventure. This small amount of time with the system was enough to get me completely hooked. The main thing I remember about the Dreamcast was the incredible graphics it produced. They completely blew away their competition at the time, the Playstation and the N64.

Still looks pretty decent even with today’s standards

While Sonic Adventure was a good game, the two most notable launch titles were SoulCalibur and NFL 2K. SoulCalibur, a great fighting game, remains one of the best-rated games of all time. More than anything, however, this marked the first time that a game looked just as good at home as it did in the arcade. Sega was always known as a creator of great arcade games, and their new home system was a perfect fit.

The realism also translated to NFL 2K, the first game that legitimately fooled people into thinking a real football game was on when you were playing. Besides looking good, it played exceptionally well. EA’s Madden series had gotten into a rut (not unlike today), and with EA refusing to support the console, Sega took it upon themselves to create a football game that not only looked better than anything Madden had but played much better too. Another invention worth mentioning on the Dreamcast was the use of a VMU, which in NFL 2K functioned as your own personal screen, allowing you to call plays without the opposition seeing what you were calling. As of today, no other system has been able to pull this off, and this feature is even being talked about as a selling point for Wii U’s new tablet controller.

Call Your Own Plays!!!

Of course, it wasn’t all rainbows and lollipops for Sega’s new system. While the launch was actually quite successful and 1999 was a great year for the company, the impending launch of the Playstation 2 was enough to not only temper sales but put Sega out of the hardware market altogether. I remember sitting in my criminal justice class freshman year of college in 2000 and reading in the Indiana Daily Student that Sega was getting out of the hardware market. This was a sad day, especially for someone such as myself who had invested heavily in the system.

Most of my friends would describe the legacy of the Dreamcast in one word: DreamWaste. They made fun of me at the time for buying it and they continue to do so to this day. Obviously, even at the time it was wise to question whether Sega could be successful. The Saturn had killed all the momentum they had from the Genesis, and the new player in town, Sony, was dominating with their Playstation. Not only that, but Nintendo’s N64 was very successful, and history had shown that three systems couldn’t survive in the market.

The music made this game. Bad Religion and The Offspring. Amazing.

Still, I remember the Dreamcast fondly. Besides the excellent launch titles, games such as Crazy Taxi, ChuChu Rocket, Resident Evil: Code Veronica, NBA 2K, and World Series Baseball 2K1 were all great games. The first two years of college I still really loved playing sports games, and Dreamcast had the best selection out there.

Besides the launch of the Dreamcast, 1999 saw the release of three games  that I’d like to make quick mention of.

Counter-Strike

By all measures, Counter-Strike probably should have been selected as the game of the year or at least been talked about more. It was THE game people played throughout college, and its impact on making online shooters the biggest genre in video games can’t be denied. However, I was never that big of a Counter-Strike fan. I had played Half-Life over a LAN plenty, and as I mentioned above, I was still more interested in sports game at this point.

Super Smash Bros

One of the N64’s greatest games, Smash Bros. is best enjoyed with 3 other Nintendo fan-boys. The frantic Nintendo fighting game hands out more fan service than any other game on the market, as you can fight with the most famous (and not so famous) Nintendo characters of all time. While I tended to be alone in my rabid love of Nintendo in high school, I was able to enjoy the game to its full potential from time to time in college. It remains one of the few games that I felt completely comfortable walking by strangers dorm rooms and asking if I could play and they not only invited me in, they’d always give me a cold beer, too.

Roller Coaster Tycoon

I lost hundreds of hours to this theme park simulation the summer before I left for college. I remember that on two seperate occasions friends of mine asked why I liked a game that looked this dumb, but after a short tutorial they were completely hooked on the game as well. Building coasters was by far the best aspect of the game, but I also enjoyed the strategy of creating a successful theme park.

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